As we progress as a society, a lot of businesses are going digital. From traditional style of running businesses to the new age marketing and trading, it must come as a shock to the new entrepreneur.Below are a few tips to on starting and running your own online business.
UPDATE AND UPGRADE YOUR SKILL SET
You may have a skill set that is amazing and all round good for running businesses, traditionally.
However, the business environment is dynamic. If you do not evolve with it, you find yourself redundant and unable to function.
You need to go through a phase of reeducation by unlearning and relearning patterns of running a business and marketing a business.
Read books, take free courses online, study your competitors so you are more up to date.. Update your knowledge and learn to be a highly functioning entrepreneur in the digital world. Update your skills before starting your own online business.
When I was starting my online business, I had some knowledge on marketing and drawing in an audience. But not enough on social media marketing and understanding the target audience. That affected how I was able to function as a CEO of a digital company. I found myself unable to draw in the traffic I desired, so, I went and unlearned all I knew on traditional style marketing and started learning again from the scratch.
I learnt to draw up user personas. Create products specific to them and draw them in through effective social media marketing.
It may take you a while but this is an essential step in the process of starting a business that cannot be skipped.
WORK ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING.
The world of social media is so complicated and can be hard to navigate if you do not know what you are doing.
You can say the wrong things and attract the wrong type of attention, you can also attract no attention at all to yourself and that is also a big fail. You have to study the particular platform you are on and work accordingly to that platform.
If you are using Instagram, for example, your visuals are more important than the words, although your caption also plays a huge part.
You have to learn to use the right hashtags, follow the right people and create the most aesthetically pleasing and concise form of visual representation to have a successful Instagram post.
Another lesson I learnt while starting my business was the importance of social media to traffic and sales.
I thought it was okay to post once in a while and not maintain consistency. I lost followers and the engagements on my posts were very low.
However, the moment I started being more consistent, following the right people and using the right hashtags. I saw the increase in followers and follower to client conversion rate.
HAVE A GOOD WEBSITE
Think of your website as your virtual shop, it has to be taken care of and put in a presentable state for the customer.
There are a number of website builders you can use and one of my personal favorites is WordPress.
Remember that branding is important. Things like colors being uniform, the font being consistent and aligned with your business, and so on.
Always rate your website by using the ten usability heuristics to make sure your website is up to par and ticking all the boxes.
So check if your website is:
a) Usable for the lay man
b) Consistent with real world situations
c) Providing feedback to the customer
d) Able to prevent errors
e) Help the user recognize what they have done before e.g. check a product before to buy.
f) Aesthetically pleasing
g) Help users diagnose, recognize and recover from errors
h) Providing help to the user
i) Giving the user freedom to navigate the website
j) Maintaining the same standard across the website.
Other tips on starting your own online business is a good hosted website is what takes you a step closer to making that one-time visitor a regular customer.
If you find this process too hard, you can hire someone to build and maintain your website for you. Although you will have to learn to manage some things on your own.
UNDERSTAND YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
As I previously mentioned, it is a very good idea to study your target audience.
Who exactly are your target audience? They are the people that your products or services are made to appeal to.
You start understanding them by doing research and drawing up a user persona, which is informed by the research you have done.
A user persona is a persona designed to represent a large group of people that will be consumers of your products or services.
It looks at their goals, troubles, wants and needs, age, geography, and so on. This helps you fully understand the demographics of your target audience.
In my experience, not studying your target audience means walking into your operations blindly. When you do that the business often fails.
So conduct surveys to understand your target audience better, it will even help you with your social media marketing! Put everything in to make the process of starting an your own online business easier.
UNDERSTAND YOUR MARKET ENVIRONMENT
This is a particularly important tip because navigating the digital space can be very hard. If not done properly, the business could fail.
It is important to study your competitors. Just like you would in a traditional business setting. But in this case it is easier because everything is online.
You also need to study things like what keywords bring traffic to your site the most. What is the proper social media platform to use for your business, and so on.
The business environment is constantly changing and so should your understanding of it.
Constant surveys and studies should be conducted. With every new development, so should your website and social media account change.
When I began running my business online, the one thing that really helped was the research work I kept doing. It kept my business fresh and up to speed with the market environment.
Thank you so much for reading this article. I would love to know if you enjoyed reading this as much as I liked writing it.
Please leave a comment below telling me if these helped. Please drop any useful tips you think can help make the process of starting an online business smoother.
Till the next article!